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What to watch for on Matchday 8 of the Bundesliga

Two surprise teams near the top of the table face off, while Bayern will face a stern test against a side who have finally proved they can win away. Sunday's pair of games also promise to be exciting.

Hertha and Cologne battle it out

Hertha may have enjoyed some time near the top of the table last season, but a top-four clash against Cologne is something new and exciting for both the teams and the league. In fact, this game has been touted by players on both sides as a true test of where they really belong in the table.Having held Dortmund and toppled Schalke, Pal Dardai's organized, feisty and improving team deserve to be in the top four. Mind you, so do Cologne. They too have the same mix of ingredients topped off with a goalscorer, Frenchman Anthony Modeste tops the league's scoring chart with seven. Fittingly for both Cologne and Berlin, both teams have been keen to play down their strong starts. Keeping their feet on the ground after a win this weekend though, might just be impossible (especially if Bayern don't win).

Bayern face a stern test

Bayern have certainly boosted their confidencejust in time ahead of their domestic clash with Gladbach - who shrugged off a demon of their own midweek by winning their first away game since August - but they would have preferred to have faced almost any other side this weekend. Gladbach's fast counterattacking style has been a problem for Bayern in recent seasons and given the lackluster nature of Bayern's recent Bundesliga form under Carlo Ancelotti, there's a real chance Bayern could be in trouble again this weekend. Gladbach though, could be slowed down by some tired legs after their hard-fought win in Glasgow. It looks unlikely that Raffael or Andreas Christensen will return in time, but Thorgan Hazard could and that would be a huge boost.

Bayern Münchens Trainer Carlo Ancelotti (Picture-Alliance/dpa/A. Gebert)

Will Carlo Ancelotti have more to smile about this weekend?

Hamburg and Frankfurt swap places

Seven games into the season and Hamburg are second from the bottom of the table and still without a win. After one too many scrapes with relegation in recent seasons, this was supposed to be the time for Hamburg to start consolidating. However, they already have a new head coach in Markus Gisdol and only Rene Adler and the woodwork prevented them from receiving a battering against Gladbach last time out. It's time for HSV to show some sign of life against a Frankfurt team coming off a brilliant draw against Bayern Munich. Nico Kovac has got a club plagued by mediocrity into the top 10. Time to find out whether he means business or whether Markus Gisdol's masterplan has started.

Heidel faces reunion

It's been a rough start for Schalke. Five games without a win, the return of the media circus (did it ever leave?) and then the shock of Breel Embolo's horrific ankle injury have left the Gelsenkirchen club wobbling. A modicum of stability has been achieved in the form of the Europa League and this weekend, they face another side enjoying the European ride. Hosting Mainz, the club where Schalke's sporting director, Christian Heidel, spent 25 years, will be yet another turn on Schalke's emotional rollercoaster. A pair of wonder goals lit up Markus Weinzierl's return to Augsburg last weekend, and it might take something similar for Schalke to overcome Mainz. With Embolo out, can Franco di Santo take what looks like his final chance or will ageing Klaas-Jan Huntelaar drag out one last burst of form? Either way, Weinzierl needs someone to lead from the front if stability is to stick around.

Matchday 8

Friday

Hamburg vs. Frankfurt (20:30 CET)

Saturday

Leverkusen vs. Hoffenheim (15:30 CET)

Hertha vs. Cologne

Ingolstadt vs. Dortmund

Darmstadt vs. Wolfsburg

Freiburg vs. Augsburg

Bayern vs. Gladbach (18:30 CET)

Sunday

Leipzig vs. Bremen (15:30 CET)

Schalke vs. Mainz (17:30 CET)

 

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